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Pornography "distill[s] our most pivotal cultural preoccupations," says Kipnis (Northwestern Univ.; Ecstasy Unlimited, not reviewed). She asserts that when it comes to porn and what it tells us about ourselves as individuals and as a society, we would do best to take a long, hard look, since the porn industry (whose profits, she says, rival those of ABC, CBS, and NBC combined) is not going away anytime soon. Kipnis takes issue with both anti-porn feminists and conservatives, and argues for the politically and personally transgressive potential of fantasy as expressed through porn's forbidden images. She contrasts porn with what she sees as more genuine social evils like classism, deprivation, hypocrisy, repression, and conformity. She begins with a discussion of Daniel DePew, a gay man into S&M who was sent to prison for discussing—though never acting on—a plan (devised by undercover cops) to make a snuff film; for Kipnis, this case demonstrates what pornographic fantasies are not about (actual violence and crime). The author then focuses on what they might really be (a mirror of society's deepest desires and fears). She maintains that the more publicly reviled something or someone is, the more fertile a site for intellectual inquiry. Then, concentrating on printed material, she surveys transgender porn, "fetish" subcultures, and class-conscious porn (specifically Hustler magazine).
While she is not likely to dent the armor of anti-porn crusaders or to inspire the dawning of a new era of pornography studies, the author provides a succinct, thoughtful, and lively case for porn as a significant contemporary cultural form.
“A tour de force polemic in defense of the foibles of human fantasy.”—Linda Williams, author of Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the ‘Frenzy of the Visible’
“In Bound and Gagged, Laura Kipnis demonstrates that she is the Marx and Freud of porn.”—Constance Penley, author of NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America
“Laura Kipnis is the rarest of authors. She looks at porn and makes you see it through new eyes. Bound and Gagged is fearless, unflinching and funny.”—James Peterson, Senior Editor, Playboy
“Laura Kipnis’s Bound and Gagged is a singularly important contribution to contemporary cultural criticism. [It] should be required reading.”—Michael Bérubé, author of Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics
“. . . as clear a take as one could expect on the intertwining of sexual fantasy and reality. . . . rendered in language that generates a seductiveness of its own.”—Robert Christgau, [unidentified review]
“[[Kipnis] blends the themes of Freudian analysis, consumer capitalism and societal taboo into a piece of sharp, insightful, sometimes disturbing social commentary.”—Richard Bernstein, the New York Times
“A wonderfully insightful book about the elitism that lurks behind antiporn sentiment. By bringing class into the picture, Bound and Gagged moves beyond the predictable, repetitive argument among feminists. . .”—Leora Tanenbaum, The Nation
“[Kipnis] provides a succinct, thoughtful, and lively case for porn as a significant contemporary cultural form.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Bound and Gagged is a remarkably rational book about a subject that usually sparks remarkably irrational responses.”—Joy Press, The Boston Globe
“Few readers. . . will come away from Bound and Gagged with their perceptions about porn intact. . . .This original and spirited paean to the secret power of pornography makes a stimulating bedside primer—albeit one that’s more likely to lead to sedition than seduction.”—Autumn Stephens, the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
“A wonderfully provocative examination of pornographic fantasies and their broader cultural meanings. . . . Bound and Gagged pokes and prods at a number of America’s most tender spots—examining everything from transvestite personal ads and ‘fat fetishism’ to the class-ridden politics of disgust.” —David Futrelle, the Los Angeles Reader
[Kipnis] is a lively and engaging writer who argues. . . that we would be better off simply thinking of pornography as just another form of science fiction.”—Publishers Weekly
Posted January 14, 2011
No text was provided for this review.